Thursday, June 25, 2009

The History of Phantomdaggers, Chapter III

1 Granite

A happy new year to all! The winter has passed, such as it does in these lands, and we are that much stronger for it. I am known as Benjamin, Master Mason of the fifth degree and Master of the fledgling lodge of Phantomdaggers. It is, I believe, a testament to the waning influence of the Grand Lodge of Hammerbreads that I must cede my authority to this farcical triumverate. All freemasonry is at an end, some say. Doubters, all! I have none whatsoever, and I put no stock in those who would deny the benefit of a strong and morally upright masonic sorority. We simply must be mindful of our words and deeds, and dwarves young and old will flock to our doors.

My fellow leaders are not masons, of course, but I must admit that they have ruled well. We are snug in our caverns, and the stores remain tenable. Indeed, migrants seem to flood in by the dozen, no doubt encouraged by tales of Masonic glory. Most of them are not fit to gaze upon the Great Hall, but there may be a few that can someday hope to achieve our ranks.

2 Granite

Mosus has completed her apprenticeship, and become a Master Mason of the third degree! It is a relief, I admit, to have another fully initiated into the sorority. She has already been serving as the Senior Warden in practice; I will send a letter with the next caravan to make her position official.

5 Granite

Yesterday I ordered the chippies to claim the last remaining trees in the area. They set off enthusiastically; theirs is an endangered profession, it seems. The terrain has proved challenging, and the mountain goats, while not hostile, seem to be pestering them. Libash has always seemed easily distractable to me.

11 Granite

With an eye towards those mountain goats, I have set Soxgaspa to guard the cave entrance. It is elegant and well-worked, to be sure, but nothing but a few poorly maintained traps separates our valuable stockpiles from thieves and intruders. I must remember to bend our efforts towards the common defense in the future.

15 Granite

So much to do! With some help from Evan, who is a wizard with the books, I have dramatically restructured our work force. Joshua certainly was soft on the immigrants; I have heard tell that he did not discourage the epithet "useless" in their presence, and they seem to have taken it to heart. I have simplified the workers into a mere dozen professions, and set them to promoting the general welfare. The peasants I have drafted into a nascent "militia" of sorts; of yet we have no weapons, of course, but farsightedness is a virtue.

This restructuring has dramatically cut down on idling and general buffoonry. I do hear grumbling from time to time, but most dwarves appreciate the opportunity for hard labor, when it comes down to it.

18 Granite

Several days ago, I paused the exploratory digging efforts and ordered the construction a rudimentary barracks near the cavern entrance. After a resentful nap or two, Joshua managed to dig out the place. It's nothing to look at, yet; I will place screw pumps inside shortly for the militia to build their strength. It will be shoddy work, to be sure, as charcoal is even harder to come by than wood, but it will serve for now.

How we all long for the heat of a magma furnace! I will resume the exploration in short order.

24 Granite

Another party at the statue garden. The area will simply have to be expanded, but there are more pressing matters to which I must attend.

26 Granite

Disaster! The elven caravan approached over the hills, and it was nearly to the cavern entrance when it was beset by a goblin ambush. The goblins killed one trader, pursued the other, and then turned their attention to our near-defenseless fortress.

From the instant that the call of "Ambush!" echoed through the fortress, it became clear that most of the newcomers would be useless in a crisis. They rushed about madly, some pouring out of the fortress as if to flee. Perhaps goblins were a mere children's tale to some.

Luckily, I was not the only one to keep my head. Joshua and Sibrek herded the peasant fools inside, urging them to make for their bedrooms and lock themselves inside. I had the handlers muster our remaining war dogs, and Oddom rounded up his chippies as a hasty militia. The miners made ready with their picks near the entrance.

Before long, they were upon us. Armed or otherwise, the chippies set upon the goblin band mercilessly and made quick work of them, but not before beloved war dog Cog Alathostar was cut down where he stood. The few cage traps that had been set proved their worth as well; a couple of goblin prisoners will provide a grim entertainment for our vengeful crew.

On the whole, a troubling encounter. I will attempt to prioritize the development of a proper militia at once. Oddom says he will assist me in cursing some sense into our dwarven comrades.

1 Slate

Cleanup from the goblin raid continues. One bittersweet note; the elven traders dropped their merchendise as they were cut down.

3 Slate

Evan has struck cassiterite, a smeltable metal. Without magma, it is not of much use.

9 Slate

Although one elf did escape from the disaster of 26 granite, it seems his message of danger was misunderstood entirely. Fully 20 new migrants wandered into the fortress today, bringing issues of overcrowding to the fore. I do not know that we possess the wood to construct 20 new beds.

On a happier note, one of the migrants brought word from Hammerbreads that Evan has formally been appointed the mayor of Phantomdaggers.

13 Slate

I have attempted to sort out the most recent crowd of inexperienced fools as best I can. They lounge around the Great Hall, laughing and talking, but they can't seem to be bothered to sponge down the walls of the cavern entrance, where miasma has taken hold. Perhaps it will repel the goblins as well.

22 Slate

I assure you that it was only a formality, but Evan seems to have taken his mayoral posting a bit to the head. Not only does he now insist that he is entitled to larger quarters, but he has decreed that earrings are not to be exported under any circumstances. I am just now constructing a jewelers; perhaps he has friends in Hollowdell, with whom our trade might one day compete.

27 Slate

I must record yet another mishap. I had ordered the area above the entrance dug out, to give us the upper hand in the next goblin raid. Josh and Sibrek went at it eagerly, as usual, but perhaps a bit too eagerly; the entrance to the cavern collapsed upon them as they worked. Those daft miners! Sometimes their lack of foresight astounds me. Josh is unconscious; I had him dragged back to his quarters. Luckily, I had thought to order the construction of several buckets before the fortress ran out of wood entirely.

Sibrek may be worse off. He was hurled up into the air and landed in one of the cage traps. Before I could stop them, a mindless peasent hauled him down to swelter with the caged goblins! I gave the poor fool nightmares. Sibrek was already awake by the time we managed to get him out, and he seems none the worse for wear (apart from his dignity).

6 Felsite

Rimtar Ostarkivish, one of our best farmers, has been acting oddly of late. Yesterday at supper he became very animated about crafting, extolling the virtues of chesnut and tourmaline to his friends. Several of our more skilled craftsdwarves were within earshot, and I'm afraid they did not take it well. Had the company been sober, I'm sure it would have come to blows. I thought it was just a passing oddness, but now Rimtar has claimed a workshop as his own and seems to be raiding every one of our stores at his leisure. Anyone who comes near him gets an earful of curses. He has taken most of our remaining wood, which I had planned to use for more beds. I am glad our chippies found a few more far-flung trees last week; the look in Rimtar's eyes suggests that the alternative would be inestimably worse.

10 Felsite

Rimtar has finished his creation, a chesnut amulet. It's very nice, but I wish he had not used so much of our scanty wood stores.

I'm afraid Josh's injuries are more severe than I first imagined. Our healers tell me that a falling rock struck him in the spine. We can only hope that his sharp wit remains intact when he awakens.

13 Felsite

There are several rotten animal corpses in the statue garden, and no one seems to want to remove them. I wonder how they got there.

21 Felsite

I have taken on Urist Tegiraban as an Initiate. She is utterly inexperienced, of course, but I have been watching her for several weeks, and she shows promise and moral fortitude.

2 Hematite

Joshua is back on his feet! It seems that the entire fortress has a spring in its step as summer dawns. He is aiding me in a tricky mining project that I have undertaken; his expertise in this area is invaluable.

We have struck garnierite, another smeltable metal. The mountain taunts us.

5 Hematite

A miner scrambled up from the depths today. Exploratory digging has become increasingly far-flung; he traveled more than a mile to the surface. The report is strange... a huge, open pit, set far into the mountain. He claims that the stones he tossed did not hit bottom.

10 Hematite

Blast! Errant boulders have deterred another caravan from visiting us. The summer will be a harsh one indeed; we are out of barrels and wood, and are sorely in need of lumber.

12 Hematite

Thank Omer! I managed to clear the boulders in time, and the caravan has arrived. Let us see if we can salvage our precarious resource imbalance.

20 Hematite

The trading was a marked letdown. The lazy humans had nothing but a large quantity of cloth and a bit of meat. We traded them out of all of it, and still have dozens of useless stone crafts lying about.

20 Hematite, later that day

Miners report a magma pipe! Further careful investigation will proceed henceforth.

2 Malachite

We are out of barrels, and very nearly out of booze. This is going to get ugly.

4 Malachite

Evan's absurd demands continue. He thought that smoothed walls would be more becoming of a mayor's bedroom. I had Urist engrave a pair of blazing suns above his bed. Hopefully it will keep him up at night.

7 Malachite

We have struck lignite! With a bit of luck, we can get a rudimentary smelting operation going even before the magma is tapped. This is a thrilling development; the whole fortress is reverberating with excitement. Also, we are out of booze; metal barrels will be essential.

8 Malachite

And hematite, nearby! The smiths are salivating.

25 Malachite

Chaos. Too much to do. There are frogmen in the well.

8 Galena

The dwarves refuse to use the new refuse pile. Miasma abounds.

18 Galena

Oh hell. Unexpected magma breach.

1 Limestone

It has been an eventful summer. I will attempt to recall the more important events for the sake of the records.

We have been out of booze for months, subsisting on water and hating it. My compatriots carry themselves shamefully, sluggishly. But what to be done? There are no barrels, and no wood in sight. The lignite strike was a lucky find, but without a seed, it is useless; some amount of fuel, however small, is required to create more.

Our chippies managed to find a single tree that had thus far been spared. The wood we burned into a tiny lump of charcoal, just enough to smelt lignite into coke, the tiniest dusting. But that was enough to produce more, and by now coke production is starting to ramp up.

This effort seems wasteful, given the presence of lava, but any chance that a metal barrel could be created more quickly had to be siezed. The use of lava is a time-intensive process, and one must be careful. After weeks of digging out the extent of the warm rock, our miners set upon a plan; a series of tunnels below, and a huge production floor above. They set to work, doing their best to get through the working day on water alone.

Alas, my inexperience with the devilish trickery of magma here presented itself. On the lower, exploratory level, the warm rocks gave way, and magma stealthily began flowing through tunnel after long tunnel. One of the brewers, Fikod Tileshvabok, was the first to happen upon this dreaded magma wall; he bravely sounded the alarm, and his voice echoed up the staircases before ominously falling silent. The militia rushed into the depths with floodgates, and managed to seal the corridor, mere meters from the stairs. Fikod was not so lucky; he simply disappeared. The fortress's first casualty was mourned by all.

And so the fortress stands; still in chaos, but now there is hope. Soon the magma works will be complete, and the booze will flow again.

3 Limestone

Olin Sigunamund has had an ugly run-in with a wild horse. His badly mangled leg is a testament to his poor skill as a hunter.

10 Limestone

The caravan from far-off Ezum Caneth has graced us with their presence. Four wagons! What treasures lie within, I wonder...

12 Limestone

The caravan is unloading its goods, and as soon as Evan finishes marveling at his outsized quarters, we can begin this long-needed exchange. Among our trade goods are 117 pairs of earings, banned from export. I wonder what Evan plans to do with them.

24 Limestone

Wealth beyond measure! After more than a week of tedious meetings, and a rather slothful nap, Evan has managed to remove himself to the depot. Ezum Caneth is renowned for their vast, underground tower-cap forest, but I dared not hope until I saw our chippies hauling off bundle after bundle of the finest tower-cap logs you could imagine. To think, the traders seem relieved for us to take the burden off of their hands-- they charge but a pittance!

Evan is ecstatic; he will take to the books for weeks after this, I think. In a fit of generosity, he suspended his ban on earring exports.

9 Sandstone

Everyone has been frantic lately, hauling goods back and forth. We could not trade half of our finished goods simply because we have no bins, so they are scattered willy-nilly about the fortress; even with nearly everyone pitching in, we could not carry everything to the depot in time. But we have booze again!

3 Timber

I never thought I'd say this, but we need more dwarfpower. Everyone is running about, moving lumber and stone. We still have not finished distributing the goods we received from the traders.

9 Timber

A few migrants trickle in. They will be set to work at once.

19 Timber

Evan demands a piccolo. I can't fathom why; none of us has the skill to play it.

23 Timber

I have begun the construction of what I hope will be the first of many roads. Someday, they will be paved with gold...

1 Moonstone

Winter has arrived. The brook is frozen over and frost settles on my beard, yet I am optimistic. Slowly, slowly, we are replenishing our stocks of barrels and beds, working through the gigantic mass of wood that we acquired last season. The magma fill is nearly steady enough to begin smelting, and four forges stand ready to produce steel of wondrous strength and beauty. And if the goblins think to trouble us again, three squads of legendary wrestlers stand with clenched fists and hardened minds.

9 Moonstone

The barracks is a pigsty. The soldiers have strewn rotting food about the room, and no one seems to want to touch it. If they want to wrestle in their own filth, so be it.

13 Moonstone

One Zolak Ongongaspuz, Goblin Master Thief, stumbled into a cage trap today. After he was taken to the dungeons, I went to speak with him. Much to my surprised, "he" claimed to be a misrepresented freemason! I was skeptical, but he presented himself well, so I queried him more closely. When I asked him for the local grip, however, he just stammered, nor did he know the words of the Grand Lodge of the Mountainhomes. A clever imposter, but an imposter nonetheless. He remains caged.

14 Moonstone

Another snatcher, the partner of the first. Their uncoordinated bumbling is the laughingstock of the fortress.

16 Moonstone

I have ordered the slaughter of some of our horses. They have been breeding absurdly of late, clogging up the hallways with their noise and filth.

19 Moonstone

The magma forges will one day be useful, I'm sure, but for now the magma is simply not reliable enough. I have ordered the construction of some temporary coke-powered smelters and forges; we will resume the old ways for now.

21 Moonstone

Gobbos! The lookout must have been sleeping, as we did not hear the cries until they were nearly at the entrance. There were two groups this time, seven in all. Luckily, they were distracted by a stray cat that led them nearly a kilometer afield before they caught up with her. By the time they regrouped, we were ready. I stationed all three squads near the fortress entrance, but this precaution proved unnecessary. Most of their number were undone by traps, and The Reputed Bolts made short work of the last, although one of our war dogs was wounded in the exchange. Our dwarves performed admirably in the crisis; no panicked running about (at least, no more than usual). I am delighted with the state of our armed forces to date.

6 Opal

I have ordered the construction of spartan bedrooms for the military directly beneath the barracks, complete with cabinets. Perhaps a bit of ownership will encourage the wrestlers to clean up after themselves.

11 Opal

Our beloved Sibrek is dead. He had been rather down lately, complaining of the sun and the dullness of our wine. Several days ago, he disappeared, and his whereabouts were unknown until a chippie returned to the fortress in tears today, having come across his corpse perched on a wall. We will have to begin long-overdue construction of a graveyard postehaste.

15 Opal

Another ambush! Our chippies had worked right through the traded wood, so they were out in the field gathering more. The goblins cut down several horses before setting their sights on Eral Osustustuth, a chippy with his baby girl. Eral is truly lucky to be so light on his feet; even with their numbers, she led the goblins on a merry chase about the plain. She escaped entirely unscathed; her baby suffered only a scratch on the arm. Our brave fighting dwarves were not so lucky. I had hastily assembled them and sent them out into the field to rescue Eral; the Purple Wires were the first to reach the goblin train. All but two gave up pursuit to face them, and the battle was joined. Our boys made quick work of two goblins, but Udib Atheluthmik, a poor peasant, found himself surrounded and cut off from his comrades. He struggled valiently, killing one gobbo and wounding another, but he was tragically struck down by a vicious mace blow before help arrived. Soon the Reputed Bolts arrived and mopped up the remaining opposition; the fight was over.

Our fortress's first military casualty, but I daresay it won't be the last.

23 Opal

Olin Sigunamund, the hunter who has been wounded for nearly a year, has been miserable lately, shouting his complaints to the walls. I suspect he has been sleeping poorly, as his bedroom abuts the dining room. I have moved him to a new one; he limps down the hallway now.

2 Obsidian

Mosus gained the third degree today; he is a full mason! I have taught him the rest of the grips and signs.

5 Obsidian

We have exhausted the small hematite vein. I have switched production to garnierite for now; better nickel than nothing.

9 Obsidian

Ninglimul Othosingtak the Jeweler has sculpted a brilliant yellow statue, carved entirely of zircon! I will place it in the crypt, a fitting tribute to our fallen comrades.

14 Obsidian

Perhaps looking to the future, Evan has banned the export of steel items. I do not think that compliance will be an issue.

18 Obsidian

Olin Sigunamund, hunter, has passed away. He had been refusing all food or drink for weeks, just limping around the great hall, looking forlorn. He will receive the solemn buriel that he deserves.

1 Granite

We have survived another long winter. Many challenges lie ahead of us (booze levels drop dangerously low once again), but I judge the fortress to be strong. Some spoke of a curse, but we have seen something else entirely; a blossoming of craft and skill. Long live Zimeshurist, long live freemasonry!

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